Tracing networks: communicating knowledge in antiquity and the digital age

Tue 23 - Wed 24 Apr 2013, 10:00 - 18:30

The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH

Professor Lin Foxhall, University of Leicester
Professor Anthony Harding FBA, University of Exeter
Professor José Fiadeiro, Royal Holloway, University of London

In this conference, archaeologists and computer scientists present new approaches to understanding knowledge networks in the ancient world and present day. The analysis of networks is now recognized as an important tool for understanding social, economic and political relations as a means of communication in both past and present-day communities. Networks of craftspeople and technological traditions across the highly interconnected world of the Mediterranean, c.1500-200 BCE, offer case studies through which patterns of knowledge exchange, innovation and technological change can be modelled. These networks of knowledge in antiquity can in turn be used as tools for rethinking communication systems in our digital age.

We explore the mechanisms of knowledge transfer through human relationships, in family and craft-groups, as well as communities and societies as a whole. Knowledge changes as it moves through networks: we explained changes in traditions, transformations and innovations through network dynamics. The role of texts and objects in the transmission of knowledge is also addressed, as means of communication beyond words, conveying ideas in a non-verbal way. Treating objects as integral components in dynamic networks offers insights into their lifecycle, including production and consumption, and allows us to explore deep-seated, embodied knowledge.

Arranged in association with:
The Leverhulme Trust
Brown University
University of Exeter
University of Glasgow
University of Leicester
Royal Holloway, University of London

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